Orangutans are one of man’s closest relatives in the animal kingdom. They are the only great ape species in Asia, and they share 97% of human DNA. They have the ability to reason and to think, as well as to develop their own cultures. But a recently published study warns against the orangutan’s extinction – and it could all be due to human activity.
The new study, titled “Global Demand for Natural Resources Eliminated More Than 100,000 Bornean Orangutans” and published in Current Biology, found that human activities like logging, mining, hunting, and deforestation, among others, have slashed the population of Bornean orangutans into half in just 16 years. That’s from 1999 to 2015.
Orangutans are endangered species that must be protected.
According to an estimate by the World Wildlife Fund, a little over 100,000 Bornean orangutans remain. For Sumatran orangutans, the estimated number is alarmingly less than 15,000.
The researchers and collaborators compiled field surveys from 1999 to 2015 to estimate the Bornean orangutans’ population.
“The decline in population density was most severe in areas that were deforested or transformed for industrial agriculture, as orangutans struggle to live outside forest areas. Worryingly, however, the largest number of orangutans were lost from areas that remained forested during the study period. This implies a large role of killing.”
The researchers also estimate that in the next 35 years, 45,000 more orangutans will disappear.
The researchers made their recommendations on how to prevent the extinction of orangutans. Quartz quoted Serge Wich from Liverpool John Moores University as saying:
“In addition to protection of forests, we need to focus on addressing the underlying causes of orangutan killing. The latter requires public awareness and education, more effective law enforcement, and also more studies as to why people kill orangutans in the first place.”
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